Are you ready for the big East Bay debate on the Albany Waterfront Master Plan? On February 10th, at 7:00 p.m., at the Albany City Council Chambers, (1000 San Pablo Ave.) you can join residents in what is sure to become a very interesting and heated discussion on the Download 2010-11-08-WFC (Dog Management Policy) for the Albany Bulb. I've read through Fern Tiger Associates Voice To Vision final report and I have to say that they did a very fair assessment and thorough community outreach on development opportunities and issues within the waterfront area. The one area they had a disconnect in, in my opinion, was how the Bulb impacts residents outside of Albany like myself. We use it weekly in the summer and as you can see from the pictures above it is a great place to cool off and have an off-leash date with your dogs. But, they produced well balanced options that combine open space needs with future development possibilities that can only be an enhancement to the current waterfront conditions if you are looking at the overall plan.
Now for the Dog Management Plan. According to the Final Report, 42% of residents support off leash areas as long as they are clearly demarcated, and surprisingly only 24% supported off-leash along the waterfront, and fewer than 10% support off-leash throughout the site. Complicating the fact is the various owners of portions along the Bulb and future ownership of open space areas adds another layer of complexity to the planning process. I think there is room for improvement or compromise in the Dog Management Plan such as keeping or creating another beach area, but there are always alternative options in the planning process. I also think it is ignorant of people such as in the Albany Bulb to recommend status quo because that is not how society progresses, reclaims, and improves upon past development. There is a great opportunity to make this waterfront an attractive recreational area and we need to voice our opinion, but in a civil and intelligent manner.
I would love to see the off-leash areas remain but I have to agree though, irresponsible dog owners have caused a negative reaction towards dogs being allowed off-leash so I think it is our civic duty to be more responsible and recognize the fact that we need to spend more time training for recalls and more time socializing our dogs. We took on the responsibility of ownership, we should take on the education and training aspect as well. Then issues such as minimizing off-leash areas wouldn't be so hotly contested. See you at the meeting!